While there yet again was war in England and the woods around Windsor and Taplow resounded with gunfire and an army of snotty livestock succumbed, I stood on the bridge of HMS Belfast and recalled another war that had come from the Continent.
Some time ago, an Anglophone sternly corrected me when I had used “pronunciation” in a sentence. He insisted rather adamantly that it should have been “pronOunciation.” Maybe speaking your mother tongue from an early age still doesn’t foster a command of the Beautiful Language. Sadly, when trousers become pants and people get hung from the gallows, be sure that change is coming. After hall, history itself busies itself with recording the very change it brings.
Even the British will admit to Anglicising names and other words. Just think in which country “Munich” is. Once you learn how to pronounce it, it is easy to find on a map of Deutschland aka “Germany.”
One could easily overlook Antwerpen that was abbreviated to just Antwerp.
Yet it’s not the Stiff Upper Lip that do crazy things with names. I still don’t understand why Canterbury, to this day, could become “Kantelberg” in my own mother tongue. Imagine a mountain flipping on to its side.
In very old English, referring to the Low Country aka Nederland, the citizens there were called “Dutch” which means “the people.” Or “Bantu” here in Africa. From Germanic origen yet still not “German.” Just walk across the bridge at Arnhem and you may find yourself in “Germany.” But the people, the Deutschlanders, ignore their own Germanic roots and are also called “the people” or Deutsch. Pronounced Doitsch. From there comes the German Shepherd Dog named “Alsation” by the British, albeit not from Alsace. And the national dog of Deutschland aka Germany becomes a GREAT DANE.
Maybe a national border between Denmark and Doitschland wasn’t marked clearly on a map. And then Mumbai became Bombay and Kolkata got a new name. Not to mention Muizenberg.
One day, a king of Hanover (or is it Hannover?) decided to teach the Windsors a lesson and came up this river and anchored right at Harrod’s and bought himself a new island country. And he decided Thames really is too hard to pronounce.
Instead of doing battle in Scapa Flow like Gunther Prien or the Royal Navy during WWI, this Hanoverian king took the battle to the public domain and called the river “Teems.” Actually, just “Tems” and so it as remained without the Britons questioning it.
So, if you sail on the “Teems”, realise that this is where Fritz finally won the war – by stealing a river and giving it his German name. What an inarticulate way to win a war!!
Am I a critic? Not as long as my own command of English is in deficit.